SBD/2/Leagues Governing Bodies


     MLB owners "abandoned their demand for a salary cap
Wednesday" by endorsing the luxury tax the players proposed
December 22, reports Tracy Ringolsby in this morning's ROCKY
MOUNTAIN NEWS.  However, the owners' luxury tax was "considerably
higher" than what the players had presented.  The owners said
their proposal was meant as a "framework" to spark negotiations.
Braves President Stan Kasten: "You can't negotiate religion.
When the players say, 'We won't have a salary cap,' that's
religion.  This is numbers.  You can negotiate numbers."  With
the players "splitting time between negotiations and lobbying for
repeal of baseball's antitrust exemption, the union was not
expected to make a counteroffer until Friday" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN
NEWS, 2/2).  While Dodger Player Rep Brett Butler called it a
"step forward," the union "privately balked at the plan."  Said
Royals Player Rep David Cone: "It's going to be a very long week"
(I.J. Rosenberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 2/2).  Another union
official: "If your looking through a haystack and found a couple
of quarters, I suppose you can say that's progress" (Jerome
Holtzman, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/2).
     THE DETAILS:  The owners plan has a 4-year phase-in period.
In the fourth year,the tax rate on payrolls in excess of $35M
would be 75%.  On payrolls in excess of $42M, it would be 100%.
The owners also proposed a minimum team payroll of $25M.  The
players' December plan called for a 5% tax on the portion of club
payrolls that exceed the league average by 20-130%; 10% on
excesses of 130-160%; and 25% on anything in excess of 160%.  The
owners also proposed expanding the amateur draft, interleague
play, eliminating salary arbitration and creating restricted free
agency for players with between four and six years of service
(Tracy Ringolsby, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 2/2).  The proposal
included higher minimum salaries for players with one-four years
of service, starting at $125,000 (Larry Whiteside, BOSTON GLOBE,
2/2).  The owners also included the joint "industry growth fund"
-- first proposed by the players (Mark Maske, WASHINGTON POST,
2/2).  In Philadelphia, Jayson Stark notes "the other notable
aspect" was that the owners addressed "every aspect of these
negotiations instead of simply the big player-cost issue"
     WHAT'S THE ATMOSPHERE?  In New York, Tom Keegan notes the
talks "had a less bitter edge than past talks, but the two sides
didn't get any closer to an agreement" (N.Y. POST, 2/2).
Baltimore SUN's Peter Schmuck calls the overall mood of the union
after the first day of talks "surprisingly upbeat" (Baltimore
SUN, 2/2).  N.Y. TIMES headline: "Owners' Proposal Isn't New,
Players Say" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/2).
     WHY CLINTON INTERVENED?  Three labor lawyers, all
experienced with federal mediators, told SPORTS ILLUSTRATED that
President Clinton would not have acted unless Special Mediator
William Usery "could see a way to break the deadlock"
("Scorecard," SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, 2/6 issue).  Senate Majority
Leader Bob Dole says the players don't have guaranteed help on
Capitol Hill:  "They might strike out up here" ("CBS Evening
News," CBS, 2/1).
     NEWS & NOTES:  Many minor league baseball execs "stormed"
Capitol Hill yesterday to lobby for maintaining baseball's
antitrust exemption.  The minor league owners and execs stress
they are working in their own interests, "not of the majors" (Rod
Beaton, USA TODAY, 2/2)....Meanwhile, last night, the MLBPA
hosted a "lobbying schmooze fest" for members of Congress.  But
as Michael Farquhar notes in this morning's WASHINGTON POST, it
turned into "a field day for autograph-seeking fans" (WASHINGTON
POST, 2/2)....The NLRB announced yesterday that it would rule on
the players' complaint within two weeks (AP/TORONTO SUN, 2/2).
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